Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review by Shellie: The Passage – book one by Justin Cronin



Tired of vampires? Well not so fast. This is a different kind of vampire (no sparkles here.) These are termed “Virals” and they are very scary.

Synopsis:    In the recess of the Amazonian mountains a virus is discovered which scientists believe may extend human life, as well as some other physically enhancing features. Naturally the US government has to be involved, for military uses of course. Drama ensues and the virus is inadvertently transported back to the US with disastrous results.

Definitely horror, where it is told pre-apocalypse and post-apocalypse with some interesting dystopian societies thrown into the works. With two apparent factions – “Virals” and humans or “Souls” competing, it is definitely War. One group needing food, the other striving for survival, but it’s a lot more involved than it sounds.

My Thoughts:    Justin Cronin sure can tell a story. A master story teller, he is definitely the loquacious type. Within this book he tells it layer upon layer embedding the stories of each of the characters within the larger plot, which I believe is Justin Cronin’s signature style. I have read that this is his methodology in his Pen/Hemingway Award winning novel Mary and O’Neil. Which is now on my tbr list along with his other book The Summer Guest. For those whom are not fans of horror, I would recommend you check his other work out.

The characters are very well developed within these embedded tales which makes it  an absolute page turner even for 762 (ARC) pages. You will not even notice that it’s a tome.  Its done that well.

It will suck you in, surprise you (I thought I had guessed the next twist more than a few times- nope),  make your heart beat, and I even cried at one point (I don’t cry.)  It is a grand escapist book. A perfect summer read. It is no wonder Ballantine has promoted it so vigorously. You may even want to take a few days off before starting this, or be prepared for little sleep; or even better, take it on vacation.

I loved the fact that the book is broken down into short”ish” chapters. You can read bits here and there and not feel too committed to a long sitting. Yet you feel like you could read it all in one sitting… but good luck trying at 784 published pages.

I believe I have heard there is a movie in the works? Two others books are in the making as sequels and I am bummed that I will have to wait 6 years to see the conclusion to this saga. I give this a 4.5 stars.

For more information on the book, the author, as well as purchasing links please see Layers of Thought's preview for The Passage.

For other excellent reviews on the book see Lilly’s at Reading Extravaganza, Ken’s at Neth Space, Firefly’s Book Blog, Adele at Unbound, a new reader Lisa Bibliophiliac, and a contrary opinion from Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who tried it on audio. Please, if I missed your review let me know.

For an interesting and short interview with Cronin from NPR around The Passage - you can see how articulate this English professor is. I have a funny feeling he's one of those folks that just talks and talks.

Have a fantastic Thursday everyone, and happy first day of July. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought!


Unknown said...

I tried to post a comment and of course blogger sends an error message, argh.
Anyway, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this great story. It does suck though that we will have to wait such a long time for a conclusion.

Also, thank you for mentioning my review :)

Unknown said...

Lilly -
It published... Blogger is being so moody to day.

Thanks for commenting. I did enjoy this huge page turner.

Blodeuedd said...

Long book for sure, and that virus sounds interesting. I like these kinds of books

logankstewart said...

Ooh, I just picked up this book yesterday and plan on starting it as soon as I can. Despite all it's hype, I constantly read positive review after positive review, all claiming it to be as good as it's supposed to be. Hopefully I can get to it soon.

Great review! And nice ARC score, too.

Unknown said...

Blodueudd -
You know I did not even notice the length. I will be curious to see what you think. I do think you will like it, but then I'm just getting to know your tastes.

Are you seeing it in the stores over in Finland everywhere? My friend in Ireland says its everywhere with banners in all the book stores.

Logan -
I always hate hype.. one of the reasons why I only read one Stephen King and non of the Anne Rice novels about vampires. I would have skipped Twilight but my best friend insisted. Until just recently I have just skipped vamps altogether.

I do hope you like it as much as I did. We do tend to like the same stuff. He is really an amazing writer.

I am not sure how I got a copy of this but it was in my mail box. I think its great!

Alexia561 said...

Great review! I love books that suck you in! Am going to have to get a copy, as I haven't heard anything but raves about this book.

Unknown said...

Alexia -
Not everyone is loving it but most are. He is a really good writer.

I do hope you liked it as much as I did. And yes I am tired of vampires...;)

These are really cool though.

Serena said...

This is one book that I wish I hadn't missed out on at BEA. It sounds fantastic and right up my alley! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Unknown said...

Serena -
I saw pictures posted on Books on the Nightstand from BEA where they had banners all over the place for it.

Ann and Michael have been talking about Justin Cronin for a while now with his last one The Summer Guest as a big favorite.

Now since you did not pick a copy up...did you notice the lines for getting one? where they huge?

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Shellie, I'm so happy that this was worked out for you. I wish it had for me :) Thanks for the shout out; appreciated.

Your new blog design is awesome, but I'll never forget the bathtub header...LOL

Unknown said...

Diane -
I loved that header too. She was so much fun. I just felt I had to move on before some copyright infringement lawyer found me out for pilfering the picture off the web. lol - it was a tough move...

I do think you should try some of Cronin's other books since we all are not horror lovers.. Me I live on the stuff!

Simcha said...

I've been looking forward to reading this book for month. I've seen some pretty mixed opinions about it but I'm still planning on formulating my own. I am glad to see that you enjoyed it though.

Unknown said...

Simcha -
I have seen mostly positive reviews, only not so great from Diane linked in the bottom of the post.

I would say you have to like horror. I love horror. If you don't you probably will not like this book. I don't remember seeing you review any on your blog???

It was a fun book, for me ... I do hope you enjoy it!

Charlie said...

"Drama ensues and the virus is inadvertently transported back to the US with disastrous results."

Why am I not surprised by that line?

There's a real buzz about this book, and the pre/post apocalyptic angle sounds velly interesting. Just wish I was a faster reader.

Unknown said...

Charlie -
Hes an excellent writer. One of those books you don't feel like you have to struggle at all.

But it does have Vampires and you hate vampires! So perhaps one of his older books?

David Halpin. said...

Great review, Shellie. I just finished it and will think about it for a day now before I decide what to write. I agree re:the twists, it was great to be wrongfooted so often by an author.

Unknown said...

Dave -
I love books that you just can't guess whats going to happen it really tells to the skill of the story teller...

And I loved his layers of stories inside stories and the ease that he does it.

Thanks! Looking forward to reading yours. :)

ediFanoB said...

first of all thanks for a great review.
I'm glad I found finally time to read it.

You wrote that The Passage is a perfect summer read.
As I buy mostly paperback I have to wait a little bit longer. The paperback will be published in January 2011 and of course I ordered a copy in advance.

Unknown said...

Edi -
I just wrote the summer stuff because they released it for the summer reading rush. It will be a great read any time of year.

We have similar taste and likes from what I have seen. You are going to love this. It doesn't give you any mind blowing revelations but you will be lost in enjoyment.

I can't wait to see what you think.

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